This research is the first output of the Independent Review and Monitoring of Housing Benefit (LHA) reforms and was conducted with tenants and landlords from 19 local authority (LA) areas in the late autumn of 2011 to explore their initial reactions to coming changes to the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) system that were introduced in April 2011. A key focus of the first stage of the research was on understanding tenants’ and landlords plans for the future.
An independent consortium led by Ian Cole from the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR)  at Sheffield Hallam University was commissioned by the Department  in March 2011 to carry out a review of the implementation of the Housing Benefit Emergency Budget and Spending Review measures that commenced in April 2011.
The research focuses on the Housing Benefit Emergency Budget and Spending Review measures for a period of two years between April 2011 and March 2013 but will also pick up some impacts from other measures affecting HB-LHA claimants, the nine months transitional protection offered to existing tenants from April 2011 was announced after the review had started. A substantial element of the project will be an econometric analysis of the impacts of the changes.
The findings of this research will help to inform the help the Department provides to local authorities who are responsible for administering Housing Benefit.
The Department for Work and Pensions has provided Councils with £190m to help people prepare for the changes. In December 2011 we published a good practice guide for based on our visits to local authorities, which includes advice on the various communication methods local authorities could consider including the value of follow ups and alternatives to letters.
The Department is supporting this work through £49 million transition funding secured across this spending review to help claimants affected by housing benefit reforms. In 2011-12 we allocated £4 million to 10 LA-led projects on the basis of a bid process. Most of the successful bids included some element of help with rent negotiation.
Over the coming months the consortium will report their findings from the current and next stages of the work in an interim report later this year and a final report next year.
Other key team members are Peter Kemp of Oxford Institute of Social Policy, Carl Emmerson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and Ben Marshall from IPSOS-MORI.
The Scottish Government along with the Department of Communities and Local Government and Welsh Assembly Government are working in close partnership with the DWP and each contributing £120,000 over three financial years to the costs of the review.